England's White Dragon

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Saturday, 2 April 2011

EDL and opponents protest Arrested in Blackburn

Protests by the English Defence League and opposing groups
in Blackburn led to 12 arrests in a major police operation.

About well over 2,000 EDL supporters gathered for their
protest near King George's Hall on Northgate, according to police.

Opposing protesters, who were kept about 490ft away, said
their gathering was a celebration of multi-culturalism.

Lancashire Police said officers wanted to thank the majority
of protesters for a "relatively peaceful" operation.

Some fireworks were reportedly thrown at officers, who
contained a group of youths linked to the counter-protest.

Police said that the other demonstration attracted only
around 500 people compared to the 2000 plus EDL protesters.

The 12 arrests made during the day included a 48-year-old
man, from Blackburn, who was arrested on suspicion of assaulting a police

Others were arrested on suspicion of offences including
breach of the peace, affray, being drunk and disorderly and using threatening
words or behaviour.

Skirmishes broke out among supporters during the EDL rally,
despite an appeal for a peaceful event from the organisers.

One man was punched to the floor, while coins and a pint
glass were thrown.

EDL spokesman Tony Curtis blamed the fracas on a more
extreme splinter group.

"Once we got rid of the troublemakers it got better. It
was a good demonstration," he said.

A small group of EDL supporters also broke away from the
main demonstration area and were quickly brought under control by police, the
force said.

Ch Supt Bob Eastwood, who earlier described policing the
demonstrations as Lancashire Police's biggest ever operation, said there had
been no "significant disorder".

"The events have passed mostly without incident and I
would like to thank the local community for their help and tolerance during the
events and the lead up to them," he said.

"The aim of the policing operation was to allow for
peaceful protests which we have demonstrated is possible through careful
planning and successful communication at all levels.

The EDL demonstration finished at about 1415 BST, while
Blackburn and Darwen Unite against Racism (BADUAR) ended their protest at
Sudell Cross at 1500 GMT.

Hundreds of police, along with mounted officers and steel
barriers, kept the two sides apart in areas away from the general public.

Some roads were closed during the event and a number of
smaller traders in the town centre remained closed on Saturday.

The force had restricted numbers to 3,000 from each side for
the "safety of the community" but there were only around 500 in
(BADUAR) group and around 2000 plus EDL showing the EDL is gaining supporters
on a high level throughout England.

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